Alibi V.26 No.11 • March 16-22, 2017 

A Drinkable Feast

Eating with Ernie

Get sensitive and soused

Hello once again all you craft beer heads, food truck denizens and thirsty lit fiends! “A Drinkable Feast” is proud to be back for a special one-off to wet your whistles, help you scare up some great food truck grub and make your DrunkSkulls smile with culture, dammit, culture! Instead of jumping right in with our typical classic-everyone-says-they’ve-read-but-probably-haven’t-but-should book, this time let’s let the theme develop across our food and drink, and see if you can’t guess the book before we get there.

La Cumbre beer
Beer: La Cumbre’s El Jugo

Belly up to this pale ale, “the juice,” which delights with the cloudy (unfiltered) color of grapefruit and a wispy cream head that lightly laces the glass down as you go. On the nose, it’s all citrus and bright sap with a powerful and piney rush of flavor that, while being relatively mild on the IBUs, still delivers her hops front and center. The soft finish sneaks up on silky without going too far into syrup … a terrific, drinkable pint that’s got all the character craft heads crave and none of the bitter bobbles that tend to haunt lesser brews. It’s got just the right amount of astringency and fizz to calm, cut and recalibrate the senses after the punch of a big, flavorful meal while staying light enough to order another. In La Cumbre’s ever evolving continuum of beers, this one is true to their bold beginnings without putting off newer palates. And with its balance of strength and vulnerability, the name, the equatorial color and citrus flavor … it’s the perfect pint for this ADF trio.

cuban
Bite: My Sweet Basil’s Cubano and Green Chile Queso Fries

And speaking of big, flavorful meals, My Sweet Basil’s cubano ($8) is as thick and juicy as a burger, slathered with stone-ground mustard and a stack of thin-sliced pickles. With thick, juicy, braised pork and applewood smoked ham, this sandwich zigs when you think it will zag and stands a cut above as a result! Though served with the house chips—which are delightfully salty and thicker, like kettle chips—I strongly suggest adding a side of the green chile queso fries ($6). A hot pile of golden, hand-cut fries buried under a smooth, and surprisingly tasty queso, all topped with luscious green chile … how can you miss? No one will be shy to take the last bite, I can promise you that. As for why it fits this ADF trio, the sandwich is the key—though if I truly had my druthers, maybe it would have to be a fish dish—like marlin, or even shark. Any guesses?

Okay, last hint: I’ve shamelessly aped a phrase this writer coined and taken it as the name of this column. It seemed only right, at this late hour, to finally throw him a bone.

Hemingway
Book: The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

Arguably the book that cemented the Pulitzer for him, this simple-premised novella finds Hemingway at perhaps his late and tender best. It follows Santiago, a haggard, world-worn old fisherman who hasn’t brought in a fish in almost three months. As a result, he’s near destitute, existing almost beyond hunger, and all but alone in the world. Only a boy, Manolin, cares for the unlucky fisherman—and only when he’s not out working on a better, luckier boat. The boy helps the old man carry the tattered gaff, brings him a beer and a few humble meals. Of course, it is Hemingway, a writer notorious for his macho bluster—but in the telling of the old man’s tale is an infinitely more humble and honest work that considers the deep-seated insecurities which fuel much of that nonsense. The old man continues to set sail each day hoping his luck isn’t gone for good—a study in quiet preservation, and a moving theme considering Hemingway’s ultimate end. The reverence and determination of a man alone in the Gulf of Mexico, the exhausting struggle that ensues, aches down through the pages and into the reader’s salt-watered bones. If you’ve ever fished like this or even seen a reality TV show based around big fishing, then you’ll have some idea of what it takes to bring in a big catch. Go backwards, through 50 plus years of technological advances, and imagine the fight as an old man in a rickety skiff in the Gulf alone. It’s a quick read, a commendable narrative, but most powerful as a metaphor of a once great and lucky man honestly facing his own legacy and fragile mortality.

And it’s exactly the kind of read you could finish over a few slow beers and a bite to eat on a slow spring afternoon. Cheers to you all—now go eat, drink and be literary!